Jul 21, 2004

Class-specific features of neuronal wiring

Armen StepanyantsDmitri B Chklovskii


Brain function relies on specificity of synaptic connectivity patterns among different classes of neurons. Yet, the substrates of specificity in complex neuropil remain largely unknown. We search for imprints of specificity in the layout of axonal and dendritic arbors from the rat neocortex. An analysis of 3D reconstructions of pairs consisting of pyramidal cells (PCs) and GABAergic interneurons (GIs) revealed that the layout of GI axons is specific. This specificity is manifested in a relatively high tortuosity, small branch length of these axons, and correlations of their trajectories with the positions of postsynaptic neuron dendrites. Axons of PCs show no such specificity, usually taking a relatively straight course through neuropil. However, wiring patterns among PCs hold a large potential for circuit remodeling and specificity through growth and retraction of dendritic spines. Our results define distinct class-specific rules in establishing synaptic connectivity, which could be crucial in formulating a canonical cortical circuit.

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